Starring Paul Rodriguez Jr., “Vicious Circle” gives us a young punks in love story on the streets of Venice Beach. Young aspiring comic book artist, RJ (played by Rodriguez Jr.) meets local teen punk rock goddess Angel and the two fall head over heels in love with each other. Their would-be happy lives, however, are disrupted by Angel’s frequent drug use as well as a dark secret RJ is hiding.
Normally when you watch a movie, you know within the first ten to fifteen minutes whether it’s treating you right or not. During the first fifteen minutes or so of “Vicious Circle,” RJ attends one of Angel’s punk rock shows…and what she is playing for a crowd of unruly young punks is straight up Hannah Montana type s**t…and they’re loving it. It was during this first fifteen minutes that I realized that “Vicious Circle” wasn’t going to be for me. Yes, this may seem to be a petty gripe and perhaps I should cut the flick some slack, but I think this scene makes for a perfect example for how the rest of the movie unfolds – totally unbelievable.
There’s a very serious and heartfelt tragic love story being told here and it manages to pull itself together for its last twenty minutes, but by the time you get there you’ve been hit over the head with what seems to be some bizarre alternate reality, not so different from ours, but enough to make you ask – what the f**k? – at every turn. Characters and their actions rarely are very believable. For instance, the character that’s supposed to be the menacing drug dealer of the movie really just turns out to be a Biff Tannen type bully. If he would’ve called someone a “butthead” I think I would’ve had a stroke. In one particular scene, he’s bullying RJ in the street and it damn near looks like he’s about to give him a noogie. It doesn’t really come to such grade school playground shenanigans, but he does take RJ’s pants instead. Junior high school playground shenanigans What a rascally drug dealer. Many of the other characters do an equally poor job of selling their roles in this story.
The reason why “After School Specials” are so near and dear to many of our hearts isn’t for the life lessons that they were trying to teach us, but rather for how funny and unbelievable they were. Take a serious situation like…say…drug addiction…and weigh it down with some not-so-great performances, unbelievable characters and situations and an overdose of melodrama and you have yourself one funny program. I know “Vicious Circle” is trying to tell a serious story here, but it’s so much like an “After School Special” that I couldn’t help but laugh. Again, the movie straightens out during its last twenty minutes and I was very conscious of the fact that it finally had my undivided attention. It just took an hour or so to get to that point.